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Inception date: 11 Mar 2009 | Removal date: open ended

Import licensing requirement

The U.S. Congress approved in February-March, 2009, and President Obama signed into law on March 11, 2009, a Fiscal Year 2009 appropriations bill that denied access to the U.S. market for Mexican trucking firms. This then led to retaliation that was not lifted until the two countries reached a settlement in 2011.
The 2009 omnibus bill, which was designated as H.R.1105 and became Public Law 11-8 upon its entry into force, included a provision (section 136) stating that:
None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available under this Act may be used, directly or indirectly, to establish, implement, continue, promote, or in any way permit a cross-border motor carrier demonstration program to allow Mexican- domiciled motor carriers to operate beyond the commercial zones along the international border between the United States and Mexico, including continuing, in whole or in part, any such program that was initiated prior to the date of the enactment of this Act.
The trucking dispute is a long-running source of friction between the two countries, having been conducted under three U.S. and three Mexican presidencies. At issue here is whether the United States will honor a commitment that it undertook in the services schedule for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which specified that 'three years after the date of signature of this Agreement, 'Mexican persons may provide' crossborder truck services to or from border states (California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas),' and that this commitment would extend to all of the U.S. states six years after the agreement entered into force (i.e., 2001).
Opponents in Congress have tried since the conclusion of the NAFTA negotiations in 1992 to dilute or delay the implementation of this commitment. Mexico has responded by bringing a formal complaint under the dispute-settlement provisions of the agreement. A NAFTA dispute-settlement panel unanimously determined in a 2001 report 'that the U.S. blanket refusal to review and consider for approval any Mexican-owned carrier applications for authority to provide cross-border trucking services was and remains a breach of the U.S. obligations.'
Prior to 2009, the issue was at least partially settled through the (U.S.) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's implementation of a pilot program that permitted some Mexican truckers to operate vehicles in the United States. That compromise was then undone by the 2009 appropriations law.
Having exhausted its options under NAFTA dispute-settlement, and in response to the United States having reneged on the compromise program, the Government of Mexico on March 18, 2009 imposed punitive duties on U.S. imports. This consisted of penalty duties ranging between 10% and 45% on certain imports from the United States, most of them being agricultural products. (See the Global Trade Alert description of the Mexican retaliatory measures.)
The Mexican Ministry of Communication and Transportation and the Department of Transportation of the United States resolved this dispute when they signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Long-Haul Cross-border Motor Carrier Services on July 6, 2011. This MOU, and the subsequent publication of the regulations and procedures to obtain operating authority in the Federal Register, establish a reciprocal program that will last up to three years. It will grant eligible Mexican carriers full permanent operating authority for cross-border long-haul services of international cargo as long as they meet all statutory requirements and operate safely in the United States.
As agreed, with the signing of the MOU Mexico is suspending 50 percent of the tariffs applied to all products subject to the current retaliatory measures. The remaining tariffs will be suspended as soon as the first Mexican carrier is granted operating authority. Mexico reserves its rights under the NAFTA to reinstall retaliatory measures if there is any deviation from the agreement, or if the program is terminated.



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